Also winner of the 2012 Best Dressed For ED award.
A little anecdote: one night, when I was drinking with friends, I explained my favorite scene in the last episode of Hyouka (which should be obvious to anyone who’s watched it) to them and ended up squeeing a bit too loud for our table, much to everyone’s consternation. Yeah.
Hyouka is much misunderstood by those who don’t like it, and I don’t blame them. It isn’t a mystery show, not at its core, but it’s more of a coming-of-age story. It just happens that Oreki has superb deductive skills and Chitanda wants to use them every time she runs into something interesting, which is well, very often. It could really be anything else, but the mysteries and their plain trivialities give a unique flavor to Hyouka.
It’s easy to say that Oreki is lazy, and Chitanda is stupid. These descriptions are completely off-the-mark, and are easily disproven if one pays attention to the show. Oreki treats everything as bothersome, but he is real efficient whenever he was to do something. This is not because he treats his default passive state as desirable (despite what he thinks, this isn’t true), but because he feels that he is good at nothing, so he shouldn’t bother with anything at all. Chitanda helps him overcome that, and ignoring the massive romance tease for a second, actually convinces Oreki that “hey, I might be actually good at stuff, which is worth devoting my time into”. We see this in later episodes where he helps Chitanda solve mysteries and being surprised at himself later because he willingly gave in.
Chitanda is not stupid, despite what a simplistic description of her might imply (ditzy book-smart girl who relies on a guy to solve mysteries for her, oh no!). She’s believably written and the show never fixates on her flaws to make a fetish out of it. No, I don’t think she has ADD or even a mild case of it. I think she’s capable of taking care of herself, but it’s just that there are things in this world that most people would ignore but she wouldn’t, couldn’t, because they’re so darned interesting to her. What keeps me watching episode and episode of Hyouka is Chitanda’s childlike (not childish) sense of wonder, that makes even the most ordinary thing (why did the teacher stare at the helicopters for a long time?) something worth inquiring into. Most people live their lives without asking questions or wondering why things are, and to me that’s a shame because there’s a lot of wonder to be found in the world once you peel a few layers back. Or horror, if you’re into those kinds of stories.
To me, Chitanda would make a great scientist, as she ruminated in the final episode. And maybe Oreki could manage the farm, because his friend made him grow confidence in himself. But not anytime soon. He’ll have to grow from boy to man, first.
PPS: Kouhei Tanaka’s score for this show is amazing.